Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

DynCorp plans $455M debt sale

Washington Business Journal – by Jeff Clabaugh

Modified: Monday, June 21, 2010, 3:00pmFalls Church-based DynCorp International Inc., in the process of being acquired by Cerberus Capital Management LLP, says it will sell $455 million in new debt as part of the pending acquisition.

DynCorp will offer the debt in the form of seven-year senior notes. It plans to use the proceeds to refinance existing debt and finance costs associated with the Cerberus deal.

DynCorp (NYSE: DCP) agreed in April to be acquired by Cerberus for $1.5 billion in cash and stock. The merger is expected to close later this year.

DynCorps’s fiscal fourth-quarter net income was $24.5 million, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Revenue rose 31 percent to $1.06 billion, led by the acquisitions of Phoenix Consulting Group and Casals & Associates Inc., as well as new work in Afghanistan.  Original Here

June 21, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Civilian Police, Contractor Corruption, DynCorp | , , , | Leave a comment

South African man gets longer sentence

Erika Gibson, Beeld  News 24

Pretoria – A South African man who appealed against his five-year prison sentence in Afghanistan was given even worse news when his imprisonment was extended to 16 years.

Security specialist Philip Young was devastated by the news, his brother Pat Young said.

“My brother is dismayed, angry and frustrated.”

His brother was arrested in September last year when he shot dead an Afghan security guard who had threatened to shoot him and some of his other colleagues with an AK47.

Self defence

This was after the guard had already fired a shot into the ground from which shrapnel had hit Phil’s hand.

But the State felt Phil’s response in self-defence exceeded the actions of the security guard.

After the incident, Phil was arrested along with an Afghan colleague.

He was working as a security specialist for the American company Anham as part of the American government’s counternarcotics initiative in Afghanistan.

“We knew the appeal could go wrong. The prosecutor after all, in the beginning of the case, asked for the death penalty.

“He was extremely dissatisfied when Phil was only given five years on a lesser charge.

“He as well as my brother had to sign documents after sentencing in which they protested against the sentence.

“Now it would appear as if the State’s protest carried the most weight.

Hopes for presidential pardon

“This is not the end – we can also appeal in the high court – but I don’t know how long this process will take.”

Phil’s appeal was postponed six times without reason before it was suddenly heard on Wednesday.

Pat had earlier travelled to Afghanistan to gather facts for the case, precisely because the country’s legal system was chaotic and unpredictable.

He then established that certain key evidence was never handed in or witnesses weren’t found.

Pat hopes that a presidential pardon could help if they run out of legal options.

He has already sent a petition to Afghan President Hamid Kharzai on behalf of himself and his brothers’ three children, but has not heard anything back yet.

Please see this Call To Action at  Feral Jundi

Free South African Security Contractor Philip Young from Afghanistan Prison!

One operator said Phil Young had shot the Afghan guard in order to stop the bloodbath. According to the operator, the dead man’s brother was well-known in Taliban ranks. His family lived in a Taliban stronghold on the Pakistani border.

Trouble maker. The guard had apparently been a troublemaker for some time and was about to be fired. The six guards had apparently been conspiring for some time to kidnap or kill the foreigners on a certain day early in October. Young and the guards worked for the American company Anham, which is linked to the American government’s Counternarcotics Advisory Teams (CNAT), in Lakshar Gah. The Macedonian guard commander apparently knew of the plot but did nothing to stop it.

“Phil and some of his colleagues returned that day from a mission and when he saw the six in civilian clothes but armed with AK47s, he immediately suspected trouble,” said the operator. ”He confronted the men, upon which one aimed a weapon at Phil and fired a shot.” The shot missed Young and in self-defence, he fired three shots at the guard as he apparently realised that the lives of many of his colleagues would be in danger if all six of the men started firing at them. According to the operator, the central government in Afghanistan had rules and regulations for security guards, which stated that a person could fire back if he was being shot at.

*****

This makes me sick.  All of these contractors that I have posted lately who are currently imprisoned in Afghanistan, are at the mercy of a corrupt government and pathetic justice system.  Just look at the facts with Philip Young’s case?  He should be given a medal and not a prison sentence. From the sounds of it, his actions probably saved the lives of his fellow contractors on that day, and yet he is currently being jerked around by a pathetic justice system in Afghanistan.

So what can we do?  First, pass this around to everyone.  Second, write to the British Embassy in Kabul and let them know how you feel.  South Africa does not have diplomatic representation in Afghanistan, and the British government has agreed to help.  I say write the US Embassy as well, because what is going on with this man is just plain wrong. Thanks to Cassie for giving me the heads up on this. –Matt

Facebook for British Embassy in Kabul here.

Facebook for Philip Young here

Address: British Embassy, 15th Street Roundabout, Wazir Akbar Khan,PO Box: 334 Kabul, Afghanistan

Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday  08:30  to 16:30

Telephone:  (93)  (0) 700 102 000 (Switchboard)

Fax:  (93)  (0) 700 102 250  (Management)

E-mail: BritishEmbassy.Kabul@fco.gov.uk

June 21, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Military Task Force Tackles Thorny Issue of Contractors in Afghanistan

Task Force 2010 Will Oversee Billions in Pentagon Contracts

By Spencer Ackerman 6/21/10 6:00 AM Washington Independent

It has an uncertain budget, a team of fewer than two dozen military officers and civilians, and barely a year to make its mark on counterinsurgency in Afghanistan before the U.S. begins its transfer of security responsibilities to Afghans. In that time, a new military task force will attempt to get a handle on one of the thorniest aspects of the way the U.S. military fights its wars: its relationship with the small army of contractors it hires for support.

The brainchild of Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and South Asia, and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the new task force in Afghanistan, known as Task Force 2010, will “follow the money,” as Petraeus testified to a Senate panel on Wednesday, to ensure that billions of dollars’ worth of Pentagon contracts dispersed to U.S., Afghan and foreign companies don’t end up in the hands of U.S. adversaries or otherwise subvert U.S. strategy.

Task Force 2010 is led by Rear Adm. Kathleen Dussault, a longtime Navy logistics officer who served as senior contracting overseer when Petraeus commanded the U.S. war in Iraq. Dussault arrived in Kabul last week after meeting the week before with John Brummet, the head of audits for the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, for a briefing on “forensic audits,” something Brummet described as a “data-mining effort to look at financial transaction data” for “various anomalies” indicating waste, fraud or abuse.

While it’s too new to have a specific agenda delineated yet, U.S. officials who would not speak for attribution described Task Force 2010 as focusing on the intersection of contractor money and political power in southern Afghanistan, and giving senior military officers a greater amount of visibility into murky networks of subcontractors using taxpayer dollars than they currently have. Among its areas of focus are the private security companies outside of McChrystal’s operational control whose independent activities have sometimes proven problematic for the U.S. in Afghanistan. The task force has established an Armed Contractor Oversight Division to help advise Stanley McChrystal, the commanding general of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, on how to deal with the companies.

“It’s not just about illegal activity for this task force,” said a U.S. military officer familiar with Task Force 2010’s work. “There’s also perfectly legal activity undercutting what we’re trying to do in Afghanistan. Whether it’s prime [contractors] or subs, getting down to power brokers and money lords, it’s absolutely undercutting what we’re trying to do.”

Expect to hear the term “power broker” a lot with regard to Task Force 2010. It’s a politically neutral euphemism for one of the most complex problems that the U.S. faces in Afghanistan, and particularly in southern Afghanistan: how U.S. contract money entrenches local political dynasties, some of which raise or hire independent security forces and can have transactional relationships with the Taliban. Some use their contract money to consolidate their hold on power by providing jobs, thereby emerging as potential obstacles to the overarching U.S. strategy of expanding the Afghan government’s reach, capability and relevance, which McChrystal considers pivotal for securing U.S. interests in the country.  Read the full article here

June 21, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Pentagon, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Troops, Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan Suspected of Corruption

Officers Charged With Theft, Bribery in Oversees Reconstruction Projects

The U.S. government, which is pressing Iraqi and Afghan leaders to get tough on internal corruption, is doing the same in its ranks.

Cases of suspected fraud and other wrongdoing by U.S. troops and contractors overseeing reconstruction and relief projects in Iraq and Afghanistan are up dramatically.

James Burch, the Defense Department’s deputy inspector general for investigations, says his agency is investigating 223 cases — 18 percent more than a year ago.

Investigators have charged an Army officer with pocketing cash meant to pay Iraqi civilian militiamen, contractors offering an Army officer $1 million for the inside track on a road project in Afghanistan, and three contractors for an alleged conspiracy to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fuel from a U.S. base in Baghdad.

Army Maj. John Cockerham was sentenced in December to 17½ years in prison for accepting $9 million in bribes for contracts to sell water and other supplies to the U.S. military.

In Afghanistan, where U.S. spending on reconstruction will soon surpass the $50 billion spent in Iraq, the U.S. government is bolstering its investigative presence. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has a staff of 15 and plans to expand to 32 by October. By September 2011, the agency plans to have 49 full-time employees, says Raymond DiNunzio, an assistant inspector general

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In Iraq, investigators have opened 67 fraud cases this year, compared with 69 for all of 2009, according to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). In Afghanistan, it’s 42 cases this year vs. four last year.

Stuart Bowen, who heads SIGIR, says more tipsters are coming forward. “Some of these people have come back to the States, so they’re out of the threat zone,” he says. “Perhaps what they saw is gnawing at their conscience.”

The U.S. spent more than $1.2 billion last year on reconstruction and relief in Afghanistan and Iraq. The funds were paid to local contractors, often in cash, at the discretion of officers in the war zones.

“Given the lessons from Iraq,” Bowen says, “ratcheting up the resources devoted to pursuing cases and effective prosecution in Afghanistan is paramount.”  Original Story here

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Firm tied to Blackwater gets Afghan contract

From Charley Keyes, CNN

Washington (CNN) — A firm affiliated with the former Blackwater security company has been awarded a contract to provide protection to U.S. consulates and diplomats in the Afghan cities of Herat and Mazar-e Sharif, a U.S. State Department official confirmed on Saturday.

The official said U.S. Training Center got the contract on Friday. It is part of Xe, the new name of Blackwater Worldwide.

Blackwater became the target of widespread outrage in Iraq after its contractors were involved in the September 2007 shooting at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square that left 17 civilians dead and 24 wounded, straining relations between Iraq and the United States.

The deal is a one-year contract with an option to extend up to 18 months. If the contract is fulfilled for that entire period, it would be more than $120 million.

The State Department official, insisting on anonymity, said past history with Blackwater did not prevent U.S. Training Center from bidding on contracts and that in this case the company was the best qualified for the work in Afghanistan.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, said on Saturday she was “extremely disappointed” over the deal and that the former Blackwater shouldn’t be receiving more U.S. contracts.

“This is a company whose cowboy-like behavior has not only resulted in civilian deaths; it has also jeopardized our mission and the safety of U.S. troops and diplomatic personnel worldwide. Instead of punishing Blackwater for its extensive history of serious abuses the State Department is rewarding the company with up to $120 million in taxpayer funds,” she said in a statement.

The congresswoman has introduced legislation that would phase out the use of private security contractors.

“Though the name Blackwater has become synonymous with the worst of contractor abuses, the bigger problem is our dangerous reliance on such companies for the business of waging war.”

As for the Nisoor Square violence, the U.S. Justice Department is pushing forward efforts to put five Blackwater guards on trial in connection with that incident.

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, Contract Awards, Contractor Corruption, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, State Department | , , , , | Leave a comment

War zone corruption allegations up sharply

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government, which is pressing Iraqi and Afghan leaders to get tough on internal corruption, is doing the same in its ranks.

Cases of suspected fraud and other wrongdoing by U.S. troops and contractors overseeing reconstruction and relief projects in Iraq and Afghanistan are up dramatically.

James Burch, the Defense Department‘s deputy inspector general for investigations, says his agency is investigating 223 cases — 18% more than a year ago.

Investigators have charged an Army officer with pocketing cash meant to pay Iraqi civilian militiamen, contractors offering an Army officer $1 million for the inside track on a road project in Afghanistan, and three contractors for an alleged conspiracy to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fuel from a U.S. base in Baghdad.

Army Maj. John Cockerham was sentenced in December to 17½ years in prison for accepting $9 million in bribes for contracts to sell water and other supplies to the U.S. military.

In Afghanistan, where U.S. spending on reconstruction will soon surpass the $50 billion spent in Iraq, the U.S. government is bolstering its investigative presence. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has a staff of 15 and plans to expand to 32 by October. By September 2011, the agency plans to have 49 full-time employees, says Raymond DiNunzio, an assistant inspector general

In Iraq, investigators have opened 67 fraud cases this year, compared with 69 for all of 2009, according to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). In Afghanistan, it’s 42 cases this year vs. four last year.

Stuart Bowen, who heads SIGIR, says more tipsters are coming forward. “Some of these people have come back to the States, so they’re out of the threat zone,” he says. “Perhaps what they saw is gnawing at their conscience.”

Read the full story here

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Iraq, Pentagon, Private Military Contractors, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do Armed Contractors Belong in War Zones?

By Pratap Chatterjee* at IPS News

WASHINGTON, Jun 16, 2010 (IPS) – Should private contractors like Blackwater be allowed to continue to provide armed security for convoys, diplomatic and other personnel, and military bases and other facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq? A bipartisan U.S. Congressional commission will spend two days cross-examining 14 witnesses from academia, government and the companies themselves to come up with an answer.

“Some security tasks are so closely tied to government responsibilities, so mission-critical, or so risky that they shouldn’t be contracted out at all,” says Christopher Shays, a former Republican member of Congress from Connecticut.

Shays is the co-chair of the Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC), a body created in early 2008 to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in military contracting services in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The commission is expected to reveal results from a seven day fact-finding trip to Iraq last month in which spot checks on four military bases turned up a contracting company hired to protect a military base that had not been vetted even though they had dispatched hundreds of employees. At another base, individual security guards were identified who had not undergone proper background checks.

The thorny question of what is “inherently governmental” and what can be turned over to contractors was singled out for attention by President Barack Obama in March 2009, when he ordered the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), a department within the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, to come up with an answer.

Read the full article here

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, ArmorGroup, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, DynCorp, G4S, Legal Jurisdictions, Pentagon, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, State Department, Triple Canopy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Police say Iraqi interpreter for US army killed

BAGHDAD — An Iraqi interpreter for the U.S. military was gunned down on Friday by his son and nephew north of the capital after he refused their demands to quit his job, a police official said.

See Also Left Behind in Iraq and  Trajedy on the Horizon

Hameed al-Daraji was shot in the chest in his house in Samarra, 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of Baghdad, police Lt. Emad Muhsin said.

Muhsin said al-Daraji worked as a contractor and translator for the U.S. military since 2003 against the wishes of his family. His relatives were constantly fighting with al-Daraji to give up working with the Americans, but he ignored their pleas, he added.

Al-Daraji’s son and nephew were arrested after the attack and confessed to being members of an al-Qaida group that sanctioned the killing, Muhsin said, adding that police were searching for a second son suspected of being an accomplice.

Iraqis working for the U.S. military in the country have been targets of extremist groups who view them as traitors and collaborators with an invading country. But it is rare for family members to kill a relative because of his or her employment with the Americans in Iraq.  Full Story here

June 18, 2010 Posted by | Contractor Casualties, Safety and Security Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

Security boss leaves Canadian project in Afghanistan

Mitch Potter The Star Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON—Another senior security boss has left Canada’s troubled signature project in Afghanistan — and this time the departing sentry is a former British commando with a storied resume that includes bodyguard duty for Michael Jackson, the Beckhams and the Saudi royal family.

Lee McNamara confirmed Tuesday he is no longer involved in the $50-million effort to restore Kandahar’s vital Dahla Dam irrigation project, telling the Toronto Star, “I’m done.”

McNamara’s departure follows a rash of resignations and dismissals in the wake of a Feb. 20 confrontation in Kandahar City between the project’s Canadian security overseers and armed men working for Watan Risk Management, a controversial security firm owned by relatives of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The confrontation ended with two Canadian security overseers — Curtis Desrosiers and Mike Hill — fleeing the country and returning to Canada in fear for their lives. One day later their boss, Alan Bell, a Toronto-based security consultant with Globe Risk International, resigned his position and also returned to Canada.

All three have refused comment on what other insiders described as “the day Canada lost control” of the project.

Read the full story here

June 17, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Private Security Contractor | , , , , | 1 Comment

Wayne Willard Comes Home with Honor

Body of former Calhoun officer killed in Afghanistan returns home

CALHOUN — The threat of storms did not keep the friends and family of former Calhoun police Sgt. Wayne Willard from paying him tribute as a convoy of Patriot Guard riders, police, emergency management and firefighters escorted his body to Thomas Funeral Home Wednesday evening.

Willard’s friend Deborah Kittle of Dalton waited more than three hours for the processional.

“It’s awesome he gave his life for our freedom,” said Kittle. “It saddens me that more people aren’t here.”

Willard, 44, worked for security contractor Dyncorp. He was killed on June 7 after a suicide attack at a police training camp in Afghanistan.

“I appreciate his service,” said Jackie Keck, aunt of Willard’s wife Liz.

Willard had previously worked with the Calhoun Police Department and Whitfield County Sheriff’s Department, and served with the Northwest Georgia Emergency Response bomb squad based in Floyd County.

Willard will remain at Thomas Funeral home until Thursday at 4:30 p.m., when it will be taken to Trinity Baptist Church for a 5 p.m. memorial service. There will not be a graveside service.  Original story here

June 17, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, DynCorp | , , , , | Leave a comment

DAI Afghanistan Terminates Several Afghan Employees for Allegedly Soliciting Kickbacks

Note:  This is just a CYA Press Release from USAID not a statement from DAI, Development Alternatives Inc.

WASHINGTON, June 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — This week in Kabul, Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI) terminated 10 employees including several engineers and other staff members after months of investigation.  DAI Afghanistan is a contractor with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

USAID Inspector General Donald Gambatesa stated that the investigation involves Afghan staff members who allegedly approached owners of various companies bidding for subcontracts with DAI Afghanistan.  The individuals reportedly offered to help the companies win awards in exchange for a percentage of the total dollar value of the project.

Read the full press release here

June 16, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, State Department | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. showed Pakistan evidence on militant faction

Reuters World Wed June 16, 2010

The United States has presented evidence to Pakistan that a militant faction aligned with the Taliban and based in Pakistan orchestrated brazen attacks last month in Afghanistan, a top general said on Wednesday.

The United States has long pressed the Pakistani military to crack down on the so-called Haqqani faction in the North Waziristan tribal region, which borders Afghanistan, but Islamabad has so far balked at doing so.

General David Petraeus, who oversees the Afghan war as head of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate hearing that he, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff raised Haqqani links in a recent meeting with Pakistan army chief Ashfaq Kayani.

“We have shared information with him about links of the leadership of the Haqqani network located in North Waziristan that clearly commanded and controlled the operation against Bagram air base and the attack in Kabul, among others,” Petraeus said.

Suicide bombers carrying rockets and grenades launched a brazen predawn attack on the base on May 19, killing an American contractor and wounding nine U.S. troops. About a dozen militants, many wearing suicide vests packed with explosives, were killed, the Pentagon said at the time.  Read the entire story here

June 16, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Pakistan | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

AFGHANISTAN: Military convoys put civilians “at risk”

Irin Humanitarian News and Analysis

KABUL, 16 June 2010 (IRIN) – Only seconds after a convoy of armoured military vehicles passed Fawad Tokhi, 35, at about 8.20am in the south of Kabul city on 18 May, he was wounded in a suicide attack.

“I was bleeding. The only thing I could do was to call my brother and tell him that I was wounded,” Tokhi told IRIN at his home in Kabul. He was seriously hit in the chest and abdomen.

Officials said the blast killed six foreign soldiers and at least 12 civilians; another 47 civilians were injured.

“I first blame foreign forces for unnecessary patrolling on city streets in busy hours of the day. Secondly, I blame the government for its inability to stop foreign forces from rambling on the city streets in their armoured cars. Thirdly, I blame the Taliban for their attacks which often kill and injure innocent people,” said Tokhi.

“I don’t understand what ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] achieves on busy streets in Kabul except creating traffic congestions and causing risks to people,” said Ahmad Wali, 19, who was injured in the same attack.

With ISAF/NATO headquarters in the center of Kabul, the presence of international forces on the streets is inevitable; non-operational movement includes military officers crossing the city regularly to meet government officials, and the shuttling of men and equipment from the city’s airport.   Read the full story here

June 16, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, NATO, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

Use of Armed Private Security Contractors in Iraq Draws Mixed Reviews

RAND News Release June 16, 2010

While U.S. government officials working in Iraq believe the use of armed private security contractors has been a useful strategy, many worry that the contractors have not always had a positive effect on U.S. foreign policy objectives, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

A survey of staffers from the U.S. military and the U.S. State Department who worked in Iraq during 2003 to 2008 found that a sizeable minority viewed the widely reported abuses of power and the killing of civilians by security contractors as potentially detrimental to the overall American mission in the country.

“While U.S. government workers don’t believe these armed private security companies are ‘running wild’ in Iraq, they do have serious concerns about behavior that is unnecessarily threatening or belligerent,” said Molly Dunigan, an author of the study and an associate political scientist with RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

Most U.S. officials surveyed said they had not witnessed power abuses by contractors, but having even a few officials observe such behavior is troubling, particularly in the context of a continuing stability operation in which poor contractor behavior can very quickly become detrimental to U.S. goals.

“Our research found evidence to support the view that, extrapolating from their experiences with private security contractors, Iraqis may take a negative view of the entire military occupation and coalition forces,” Dunigan said. “However, we also found that certain private security firms were able to be flexible in their standard operating procedures and keep a ‘low profile’ among local civilians.”

The largest clients for armed security contractors in Iraq have been the U.S. Department of State, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development. In addition, news media companies, reconstruction contractors and nongovernmental organizations also hire contractors to fill security needs.

However, there have been numerous reports of private security contractors committing serious and sometimes fatal abuses of power in Iraq, raising questions about the strategy.

RAND researchers surveyed workers from the U.S. military and State Department who had been deployed to Iraq at least once between 2003 and 2008 to find out the extent to which armed private security contractors impose costs on the U.S. military effort, whether the costs are tempered by benefits, and how the use of private security contractors has affected military operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Armed private security contractors or similar forces have been used by the U.S. military in conflicts dating back to the American Revolution, but the extent of their use in the Iraq war has been unprecedented. The number of armed contractors employed in Operation Iraqi Freedom grew from approximately 10,000 in 2003 to 30,000 in 2007 before receding to 10,422 in 2009. At times, the number of all types of contractors—armed and unarmed—has exceeded the number of U.S. military personnel in the country.

After a shooting incident in 2007 at Nisour Square where 17 Iraqis were shot and killed by an armed personal security detail working for Blackwater Worldwide, U.S. government officials improved oversight of contractors. Despite several reasons for skepticism about the impact of these measures, they do appear to have had at least somewhat of a beneficial effect thus far, Dunigan said.

“We discovered much of the problem is that the international law covering these kinds of operations is murky—from 2003 to 2008, these firms were essentially legally immune to prosecution in Iraq,” Dunigan said. “The 2009 Status of Forces Agreement between Iraq and the United States has given Iraq jurisdiction over these contractors, but they still are thought to, in effect, be legally immune from prosecution under U.S. law.”

Based on the findings, Dunigan and her colleagues said there are several things the U.S. could do to improve relations with the military and private security contractors. Since the survey findings indicate that contractors’ higher pay relative to military employees has had a negative effect on military morale, the researchers recommend that the military pre-deployment training regimen could be improved to give more information on contractor functions, in an effort to increase the level of understanding and cohesion between contractors and the military in the field.

Given the United States’ counterinsurgency goals in Iraq, disconcertingly high numbers of surveyed Department of State personnel believed that contractors do not respect local and international laws and do not display an understanding of and sensitivity to the Iraqi people and their culture, Dunigan said. Further legal regulation via contract law, or a heightened determination on the part of the Department of Justice to utilize existing regulations to hold private security contractors accountable for their actions, might help alleviate the problems associated with contractor recklessness.

Likewise, coordination between contractors and the military in Iraq could be improved by streamlining communication systems between the military and all contractor teams in theater.

The study, “Hired Guns: Views About Armed Contractors in Operation Iraqi Freedom,” can be found at http://www.rand.org.

June 16, 2010 Posted by | ArmorGroup, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracing, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, DynCorp, G4S, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, Triple Canopy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hang on a minute G4S

If Danny Fitzsimons faces the death penalty in Iraq due to Iraq’s version of what mental illness entails G4S, Armorgroup walks away unscathed despite their negligence in hiring a mentally ill man with drug and alcohol problems and a pending firearms charge  knowing he would be carrying weapons.

Due to the Defense Base Acts Exclusive Remedy, which relieves them of all  liability for injuries or deaths,  these companies can get away with murder.  If these contract companies were not allowed to work outside of US Laws on US Government contracts they would be considered responsible for the deaths of Darren Hoare and Paul McGuigan.

The families of those killed just might have a chance if he were tried in a UK or US Court, as long as it’s not the DoL’s Administrative System.

From Reprieve  Hang on a minute G4S

G4S, you’re one of the world’s largest private security firms, and not long ago one of your companies hired a man with serious mental health problems, packed him off to Iraq, and gave him a rifle.

Now he’s facing execution because he’s accused of using that gun to kill two men.

The least you can do is pay his legal costs, so that he can get a fair trial in Iraq. He shouldn’t have been there, and he shouldn’t have been armed.

So far, you have offered the equivalent of four seconds of your annual turnover to ‘help’ him out. His lawyers in Iraq say that a fair trial will cost you only one minute of your annual turnover. Surely that’s a cost worth paying for justice for an employee that you put in harm’s way?

Danny Fitzsimmon’s trial in Iraq has been adjourned until 13 June to allow him to be tested by the Psychiatric Medical Committee in Baghdad’s Al Rashad Mental Hospital.

G4S, can you spare a minute between now and then to help out your man?

June 13, 2010 Posted by | ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracing, Contractor Corruption, G4S, Iraq, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, State Department | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment